Category: cycling

Julian Alaphilippe takes stage 10 as Tour de France starts Alps climb

• Quick-Step Floors rider wins ahead of Taaramae and Izagirre
• Greg Van Avermaet finishes fourth to extend overall lead

Greg Van Avermaet extended his lead in the yellow jersey with a superb ride as Julian Alaphilippe won stage 10 of the Tour de France.

Van Avermaet was expected to surrender the race lead he has held since the stage three team time trial as the race moved into the Alps, but the Olympic champion defied predictions as he joined a breakaway and stayed away on the road to Le Grand-Bornand.

Related: Tour de France 2018: Julian Alaphilippe soars to stage 10 win in Alps – live!

Related: Annemiek van Vleuten retains La Course title after thrilling finish

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Tour de France 2018: Julian Alaphilippe soars to stage 10 win in Alps – as it happened

Julian Alaphilippe surged away to take a superb solo victory as the race reached the Alps

Right, that’s it from me! Thanks for your company and be sure to head back here for stage 11 tomorrow where this faces the peloton:

And, in case you missed it, here’s our report on La Course earlier:

Related: Annemiek van Vleuten retains La Course title after thrilling finish

Here’s our snap race report:

Related: Julian Alaphilippe takes stage 10 as Tour de France starts Alps climb

Here’s the final kilometre of a fine ride:

Impressive Julian!
Impressionnant Julian !

Here’s Egan Bernal: “I felt good. I can work for the team. Froome and Thomas felt good in the mountains.”

Next over the line is the GC group, of around 15 riders, containing all of the biggest names. Of the GC outsiders, Mollema, Zakarin, Van Garderen, Majka and Jungels are the ones to lose time.

Calmejane is next over the line, 2min 23sec down on Alaphilippe.

Tears for Alaphilippe as he’s surrounded by his team. Meanwhile, 1min 30sec down, Taaramae and Izagirre cross the line. And right on their heels are Van Avermaet and Pauwels. Van Avermaet extends his lead in yellow. Wow.

The Frenchman crosses the line. What a superb ride that was – he looked a winner from the first few kilometres.

Alaphilippe goes under the Flamme Rouge. One kilometre to go.

Yep, as I rather suspected, Van Avermaet still has plenty of time on the GC group – over two minutes. He’s going to extend his lead.

Alaphilippe enters beautiful Le Grand-Bornand with just 3km to go to glory.

The time data is slightly all over the place again, but it appears the peloton are closing in on Van Avermaet. He should still have enough to hold on to yellow.

As we saw in La Course earlier, the final 500m or so of this stage bring a sting in the tail. Alaphilippe, though, isn’t leading by 20 seconds – he has close to two minutes now. With 7km to go, barring something incredibly unfortunate, this is going to be a wonderful maiden victory in the Tour for the French rider.

Dan Martin attacks from the GC group, scuppering what was going to be quite a good “Pressure on Julian (Alaphillipe)” Blur reference (as my musical references are very much on point. The Irishman leads them over the top but only a few metres from the bunch.

Jungels begins to fall of the back of the peloton as Sky look to turn the screw on the front.

Kwiatkowski rolls off the front of the Sky train, leaving Poels to set the pace.

The crowds are out in force at the top of the Colombiere as Alaphilippe crests the col. He has 14.7km to the finish line, almost all downhill.

There’s around 22 riders in the Froome group heading up the mountain. All the chief contenders are there – Valverde, Majka, Fuglsang, Yates, Landa, Nibali, Roglic etc and so forth – with Uran and Zakarin clinging on at the back.

Van Avermaet still has a 3min 40sec lead over the peloton, with 2km to the summit. He looks set to hold onto yellow, for one more day at least. What a ride. Chapeau.

Alaphilippe’s lead is up over a minute now, with Taaramae falling back. He has 3km to the summit. And still a near-six-minute gap on the peloton.

We’ve just had one of my perennial favourite sights on a Tour de France – a French directeur sportif leaning out of the window of a car to scream at a French rider who is away at the front of the race. Alaphillipe was on the receiving end from the Quickstep team car. Always makes me think of this:

The peloton hit the bottom of the climb. Will anyone put in a meaningful attack?

Alaphilippe hits the bottom of the final Col. He has over five minutes on Froome and the GC contenders, over a minute on Van Avermaet and co, and 26 seconds on Rein Taaramae.

Julian Alaphilippe is riding a wonderful race today. He’d be a deserved winner if – and it’s quite a big if (in fact it’s about 8.5km of if, at an average gradient of 7.5%) – he can get over the Colombiere without cracking.

Van Avermaet, along with Gesink, Calmejane and Izagirre reach the summit around 45 seconds behind Alaphillipe.

Team Sky still have six riders on the front of the peloton as they sweep up the stragglers from the earlier break. Alaphilippe, meanwhile, has dropped Taaramae and is riding himself into polka dots.

Indeed Alaphilippe has dropped his young countryman and reached Taaramae.

Gaudu and Alaphilippe are the pair hunting down Taaramae.

Taaramae has 40 seconds on the chasers, where Alaphilippe and a couple of cohorts are beginning to drop the estimable Greg van Avermaet.

Taaramae has just 23 seconds on the yellow jersey group. Meanwhile, Barguil has been swept up by the peloton and might end up being spat out the back.

Barguil has spoke about deliberately losing time in order to go for stage wins … but at 2min 37sec down he could ride himself into yellow in he makes this attack work. He’s a long, long way from the finish line though and has more than five minutes to make up on Taaramae and co at the front of the race.

The pace is shredding the back of the pack – by the time we get to the summit of the Col de Romme we’ll have a very select group at the front of the race.

Warren Barguil attacks from the peloton. No reaction from the bunch as yet.

Astana, Movistar and Team Sky are prominent on the front of the group. Meanwhile, Taaramae has made his move stick and has a few seconds on the rest of the leaders.

Taaramae jumps off the front, completing the old one-two from Direct Energie. Meanwhile, five and a half minutes down the road, the peloton have reached the foot of the climb.

Attacks from the front. Calmejane – again – steps up the pace. He has a Direct Energie teammate in the break, in the shape of Rein Taaramae. Impey is the next to drop off the back.

The early slopes of this climb are the steepest and the break is quickly labouring. Gilbert immediately falls off the back.

The break hit the foot of the climb with an advantage of just over six minutes – very much a will-they-won’t-they lead.

Here are the two final climbs of the day, followed by 13km downhill and a little ramp to the finish (as Anna van der Breggen discovered to her cost earlier):

The Romme-Colombiere combo, not used since 2009. Absolutely perfect for a long range attack. I understand that being the first mountain stage, some won’t go in the attack and prefer to wait. But Movistar MUST test Team Sky every day and at least force a selection. #TDF2018

Before we hit the penultimate climb of the day, take a minute to read up on the extraordinary finale to La Course earlier. Here’s Jeremy Whittle’s report:

Related: Annemiek van Vleuten retains La Course title after thrilling finish

Sagan at last gets swept up into the peloton, along with his teammate Lukas Postlburger, the Austrian national road race champion. The pair wave at the Sky train as it trundles past.

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There’s just over 55km to go – given the terrain ahead that means about 90 minutes of racing is still ahead. The breakaway group still have over seven minutes. The first haymaker of the finishing double-punch, the Col de Romme, starts with around 37km to go.

This is shaping up as a cracking stage @John_Ashdown. Everyone talking up G’s chances (except him) but really Sky will be happy not defending so early. Van Avermaet’s been superb, but I’d still expect him to go the way of Voeckler this week. Oh, Tommy.

Froome’s issues have slowed an already not-exactly-flying peloton further so that gap to the break has grown once more. There’s enough buffer now for someone to stay away. If his legs are there, it strikes me as a stage for Tony Gallopin, though he has 17 rivals in that lead group.

Bardet is being paced back to the peloton after a mechanical/comfort break. This wide, flat valley road is a good time to sort out any minor “inconveniences”.

Another mechanical for Chris Froome on the valley road this time. It’s not a major problem for him, though, and he’ll quickly be back in the line.

And as I type that, it drops below seven minutes – clearly some issue with the time gap data.

There’s a stiff ramp here – the Col des Fleuries. It’s not categorised but it’s still tough. The lead for the break is close to eight minutes now.

Van Avermaet’s grip on the yellow jersey is tightening too – he’s still in the lead group. Of the other riders up front, Calmejane is just over 5min behind on GC, as is Serge Pauwels.

There’s a chance for the 14-man breakaway here – the lead is over seven minutes now.

Froome is safely back in the peloton, having bagged a wheel from Jonathan Castroviejo.

Why always him? If one rider was to puncture on this gravel section – and it does seem to be only one – Chris Froome would be your first guess.

– 84 km
Puncture for @chrisfroome, who is now catching up with the bunch all alone in the dust
Crevaison pour @chrisfroome qui remonte seul dans la poussière #TDF2018

Team Sky and the peloton hit the gravel path now.

On the way up, by the by, the leaders were jumped by a mountain biker:

Nothing to see here … just a BMX jumping over the peloton #TDF2018

Also well worth mentioning is the fact that the top of this mountain is home to the national museum to the French Resistance. More than 100 resistance fighters were killed by the Wehrmacht on these hills during a battle in the second world war.

The uphill section of the gravel is a little more lumpy but I’ve seen cycle paths in the UK that are much, much worse. (Though that may say more about the UK’s cycle paths than it does about the road at the top of the Glières.)

They hit the gravel section, with Alaphilippe briefly powering off on his own. No one seems to discomfited by the surface, which isn’t the potholed farm track that you might imagine.

Gaudu attacks the summit, with Alaphilippe following. The older man nips past and takes full points.

One kilometre to the finish for the break, which is a big bunch once more. Gaudu leads the way.

Pauwels, Gaudu, Molard, Taaramae and Van Avermaet are the five remaining members up front. They have over five minutes on the peloton but only a few seconds on Gesink and co.

The lead group is down to five men and Greg van Avermaet is still there. Gilbert has gone, as has Moinard.

Robert Gesink of Lotto-Jumbo is bringing the second group on the road back to the leaders. Meanwhile, Vincenzo Nibali drops back to his team car for something or other then blasts past the backmarkers with enviable ease.

Five kilometres to the summit for the peloton. No fireworks yet.

Glières approaching. This makes me feel a little faint:

The steepest climb of this Tour is about to begin. Deadly black from the bottom to the top. Unfortunately, so far from the finish… #TDF2018

That octet have just over four minutes on the Team Sky-led peloton – which isn’t really much of a margin given the terrain to come.

The 21-man break is no more – there’s now eight riders off in a group of their own: Gilbert, Pauwels, Moinard, Molard, Taaramae, Gaudu, Postlberger … and Greg van Avermaet, who may lose the yellow jersey today but a) is doing his damnedest to hang onto it and b) may get himself the combativity numbers for tomorrow instead.

So, one down, three to go. It’s a long steady decent to the foot of the Montée du plateau des Glières, around 20km away.

@John_Ashdown re: the loose section – having (just about) cycled it last week, and walked over a cobbled section of stage 9 I can confirm if they can get over the cobbles, the gravel will be a walk in the park!

Molard and Taaramae duke it out with 400m to go as their former (and future) breakaway colleagues close in. Molard thrashes his way to the top to take maximum points.

I assumed there were too many riders in the break to play “What is the breakaway?” today, but apparently Paul Griffin is up for the challenge: “You’ll be well aware of course that van Avermaet, Gilbert, Sagan, Calmejane, Pauwels, Impey, Moinard, Martin, Alaphilippe, Gallopin, Slagter, Vichot, Gesink, Molard, Taaramae, Degand, Gaudu, Bauer, Postlberger and Gesbert were the names of the Fimbles in the disastrous Hungarian original children’s series, which was too confusing, and also drew too much on nihilism, free love and existential terror for its pre-school audience. Episode 7: Gaudu gives in to Hate, was particularly hard to stomach.”

It’s all got a little bit broken up at the front as the summit approaches. Molard and Taaramae jump away and open up a 45sec gap.

Here’s Jeremy Whittle’s report on La Course:

Related: Annemiek van Vleuten retains La Course title after late fightback

“Can someone explain why Van Avermaet has made an effort to get in the break?” wonders Luke Harrison. “He is not interested in Sprint points and can’t think he is going to extend his lead today. Surely his only chance of holding on to Yellow would be to just have a storming day trying to hang on to the leaders and limit his loses. I seem to remember Cancellara surprising everyone a few years back by holding on to Yellow in to the mountains for a bit longer than expected. Or is it just that he knows he is doomed and wants to show off the yellow jersey as long as he can?”

I imagine there’s a little from Column A, a little from Column B. Presumably he thinks his chances of hanging onto yellow are slim either way, and at least by getting in the break there’s one last chance of a bit of panache. More power to him, I say.

Team Sky – quelle surprise – are on the front of the peloton, controlling the pace and allowing the break close to three minutes. Up at the front, Calmejane leaps away in an attempt to take the mountain points, but Slagter reels him in.

As someone who cracks on the gentle hills of north London (yes, like anyone else who enjoys the Tour and commutes on two wheels, the slopes over the past few days or so have become “the Col de Co-op” and “the Mur de Caledonian Road”) these gradients are wince-inducing. The pace and the percentage are not enough to shed Peter Sagan from the lead group though, but Marcel Kittel is already having a tough time at the back of the peloton.

“Any word on whether the riders have gravel bikes to swap onto or have made any other accommodations for the loose sections?” wonders Craig Fawcett. No, I think it’s just “cling on and hope for the best”. The gravel section is fairly flat – there’s some interesting info on it all here and here.

The breakaway hit the foot of the Col de la Croix Fry, 11km at an average of 7% though there are some flat sections.

Sagan, predictably enough, takes the sprint points as the gap extends over two minutes.

After that slightly chaotic start we finally have 21 riders in the fully established break, including the yellow jersey Greg van Avermaet. Deep breath:

Greg van Avermaet, Philippe Gilbert, Peter Sagan, Lilian Calmejane, Serge Pauwels, Daryl Impey, Amael Moinard, Guillaume Martin, Julian Alaphilippe, Tony Gallopin, Tom Slagter, Arthur Vichot, Robert Gesink, Rudy Molard, Rein Taaramae, Thomas Degand, David Gaudu, Jack Bauer, Lukas Postlberger and Elie Gesbert.

Fair point of order:

True that the women didn’t ride all of it it as part of La Course but the 13 women of @desELLESauVELO rode the whole stage yesterday (and are riding the entire Tour a day before the men)!

Julian Alaphilippe, who seems in the mood to make mischief today, crests the Bluffy first to take the solitary mountain point.

The green jersey, Peter Sagan, is determined to get himself into the first break of the day – sprint points are available 10km after the summit of Bluffy, which he’s likely eyeing.

@John_Ashdown Lots of people looking forward to this stage as it was used for the Etape last week. Glieres really was a tough climb so it’ll be interesting to see how the pro’s do. Disappointing that the women didn’t ride the whole thing earlier though.

With the first climb of the day, the pleasantly-named Col de Bluffy, just 19km into the stage there’s a panic at the front of the peloton as about half the pack try and get into the breakaway. Nothing has fully formed yet, though.

The 2018 edition of La Course has already been over the final hills of this stage. It was a superb race, won in the final metres by Annemiek van Vleuten.

Related: Annemiek van Vleuten pips Van der Breggen to win La Course 2018 – as it happened

Hello all and welcome to live coverage of stage 10 of the 2018 edition of the Tour de France. And what a stage it should be – we’re into the mountains!

The Col de Romme and Col de la Colombiere (both category one climbs) await in the final 40km but before then we’ve got the Col de la Croix Fry and the hideously steep HC climb of Montée du plateau des Glières, which includes gravel roads near the summit.

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Annemiek van Vleuten retains La Course title after late fightback

• Dutch rider pips compatriot Anna van der Breggen by 1sec
• Van Vleuten: ‘With 200m to go I thought I’d got second’

The Giro Rosa champion Annemiek van Vlieuten overcame her fatigue from winning the Italian stage race last weekend to win the fifth edition of La Course, the women’s race organised by the Tour de France, in Le Grand Bornand.

In what was the most exciting edition of La Course to date, the Dutch rider chased down Olympic champion and compatriot Anna van der Breggen, on the 14km descent of the Col de la Colombière and stole past her in the final 100m to take her second win in La Course.

Related: Annemiek van Vleuten pips Van der Breggen to win La Course 2018 – live!

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Annemiek van Vleuten pips Van der Breggen to win La Course 2018 – as it happened

In a thrilling finale, Annamiek van Vleuten overhauled Anna van der Breggen in the final 20 metres to win the 2018 edition of La Course

Right, that’s it from me. But join me in a few minutes for stage 10 of the Tour. If we get even half the excitement of La Course we’ll be in for a treat.

Here’s that stunning final kilometre:

⏪ Relive the last kilometer of @LaCoursebyTDF and the incredible victory of @AvVleuten!
⏪ Revivez le dernier kilomètre de @LaCoursebyTDF et l’incroyable victoire de @AvVleuten ! #LaCourse @FDJsport

That was quite remarkable. Van Vleuten wins by 1sec – 1sec! – from Van der Breggen. “It was a tough ride but beautiful,” says Van Vleuten, who has completed a la Course – Giro Rosa double.

With 200m to go it looked all over. Van der Breggen had extended her lead and Van Vleuten seemed to have given up the ghost. But on the final straight Van der Breggen ran out of gas and Van Vleuten powered past with just 10 metres to go. Incredible.

Oh my word! What a finale!

Van der Breggen gets out of the saddle with 500m to go and Van Vleuten sees the writing on the wall.

We’re off the decent and onto the flat, with some little rises before the line. Van Vleuten is closing but surely not quickly enough – 4 seconds with 1km to go.

Into the final 2km and the gap is just six seconds as Van Vleuten time-trials her way towards Van der Breggen.

The gap is staying steady – around 10 seconds from leader to chaser. With 4km to go, this is Van der Breggen’s to lose.

Van der Breggen is hitting speeds close to 80kph with only 8km to go to the finish now.

Van der Breggen’s lead is just five seconds over Van Vleuten as they flash past the chalets on the descent. Moolman is just too far off the back of Van Vleuten – around 25 seconds.

This is a tricky, technical descent – the sort that always makes me feel uncomfortable as the climax to a race, such are the risks it encourages riders to take.

Anna van der Breggen crests the summit of the Colombière with a lead of perhaps 50 metres over Van Vleuten and the battling Moolman desperately clinging on. Time for a 14km downhill race.

Moolman cracks! That almost half-hearted attack when they bridged to Uttrup Ludwig suggested she didn’t have the legs and Van der Breggen has ruthlessly confirmed that. Van Vleuten, too, is struggling to hold her wheel.

The second they bridge to Uttrup Ludwig, Moolman attacks! But she can’t make it stick (not even close really). Van der Breggen surges past and counterattacks!

Uttrup Ludwig, after a superb effort, is about to get swept up by the chasing trio just 1.6km from the summit.

The relentless Van Vleuten attacks for the umpteenth time on this climb but she just can’t get rid of Moolman or Van der Breggen.

It’s advantage Moolman in the chasing trio – Uttrup Ludwig is one of her teammates so there’s little reason for her to do any work for the Dutch duo in the chase.

Van Vleuten attacks! Moolman and Van der Breggen go with the reigning champ but Brand’s day is done.

All things being equal this high-powered quartet should catch Uttrup Ludwig by the summit, which is still over 3km away.

Van Breggen and co bridge to Brand and sit on her wheel. Uttrup Ludwig’s lead is down to 45 seconds.

Van der Breggen’s attack is ferocious enough to crack everyone but Van Vleuten and Moolman. Brand remains between that trio and Uttrup Ludwig.

Garcia’s attack has fizzled out rather quickly. Van der Breggen turns up the heat and the group splinters. Moolman goes with her, as does Van Vleuten, as does Spratt.

Six kilometres to the summit for Uttrup Ludwig. Then 14km downhill. Meanwhile Movistar’s Garcia attacks again and quickly has plenty of road between herself and the group.

Spratt attacks from the group. It’s marked by Guarnier, Garcia and Moolman.

Uttrup Ludwig grits her teeth and pounds the pedals. Her lead is a healthy 1min 30sec now.

Van Vleuten begins to crank the pace up on the front.

Lucinda Brand attacks on the descent to put the others under pressure and to close the gap on Uttrup Ludwig who has extended her lead to well over a minute at the base of the Colombière.

So with 25km to go – and what a 25km they are – the winner of the La Course 2018 seems set to come from this select group: Tayler Wiles, Lucinda Brand, Katarzyna Niewiadoma, Katie Hall, Victoria Margarita Garcia, Amanda Spratt, Leah Thomas, Megan Guarnier, Ashleigh Moolman, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, Annemiek van Vleuten and Anna van der Breggen.

They crest the Col de Romme and begin the descent – just 4km to the foot of the Colomibière.

Tayler Wiles is another of the big names in the elite group that is down to 11 or 12 riders after those attacks. Lucinda Brand is also there, as are Katarzyna Niewiadoma, Katie Hall and Victoria Margarita Garcia.

Uttrup Ludwig eases past Thomas as the summit approaches but the gap back to the favourites group has tumbled to just 33 seconds.

Amanda Spratt attacks from the pack and is followed by Ashleigh Moolman. It’s a move that has splintered an already select group even further. Megan Guarnier joins the attack.

Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig bridges to Leah Thomas with 2km to the summit.

Ludwig blasts past Kirchmann and hares off after Thomas.

An attack from the front of the bunch – Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig of Cervélo-Bigla launches off and quickly makes ground on the two riders ahead.

Five kilometres to the summit – nearly halfway – and the gap has halved since the foot of the climb.

Annemiek van Vleuten, last year’s winner and winner of the Giro Rosa on Sunday, and Anna van der Breggen, the other big favourite for the race today, are both in the chasing bunch. Who are just 50 seconds behind Thomas now.

Thomas looks strong but the gap to the main bunch – containing fewer than 20 riders – is down to 1min 11sec.

Indeed the leading group is no longer really a group. Thomas has steadily pulled away off the front, Kirchmann can’t keep pace and nor can Malgorzata.

The strongest of the three up front seems to be the American Leah Thomas, who is leading the group uphill. Meanwhile, Chantal Blaak the road world champion, is being dropped off the back of the peloton.

Up at the front of the race it looks like Finland’s Lotta Lepisto has cracked. And then there were three …

The kilometres one, two and three of this 11km are incredibly stiff with average gradients of 9.8, 10.5 and 9.1%. As the peloton hits the foot of the hill, little gaps immediately start to form.

The break is just approaching the foot of the Col de Romme, which you can see on the men’s Tour route map below forming the first part of a brutal double-header with the Colombière (just to be clear – the women haven’t cycled the full stage). Like the men, the women racers don’t finish on top of the final climb – there’s a 14km run down to Grand-Bornard afterwards.

Hello all and welcome to live coverage of the business end of La Course. The racers have just over 40km to go, which may not sound like much but it does include the two big climbs of the race – the category one Col de Romme followed by the steep and storied Col de la Colombiere.

As it stands we have a breakaway of four riders with an advantage of just over two minutes: Leah Thomas of UHC, Malgorzata Jasinska of Movistar, Leah Kirchmann of Sunweb and Lotta Lepisto of Cervelo-Bigla.

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Ashley and Jered Gruber captures some of the a…

Ashley and Jered Gruber captures some of the action from a Sunday in Hell that will probably go down as the most exciting stage of this year’s Tour de France. Catch more photos from Stage 9 over on CyclingTips.

Dirt Church by Emily Thibodeau

Dirt Church by Emily Thibodeau

Lizzie Deignan will lead Trek’s new professional women’s cycling team

• ‘Historic’ team to launch in 2019 with roster of a dozen riders
• Former world champion to resume training in December

Lizzie Deignan will lead a new professional women’s team in 2019 backed by the current men’s World Tour sponsor, Trek. The former world champion, who will have her first child in September, is targeting the UCI world road championships in Yorkshire next year and is already looking ahead to the next Olympic Games in 2020.

“I always thought that becoming a mum would shorten my career,” the 29-year-old said, “but in fact it has prolonged my career – so I will be targeting the 2020 Olympics.

Related: Landmark win for Australian women’s cycling team in Giro Rosa

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Bradley Wiggins stirs pot with warning of leadership battle in Team Sky

• ‘It will be difficult if Geraint Thomas takes yellow jersey’
• Wiggins fell out with Chris Froome when he won 2012 Tour

The Tour de France arrived at the foot of the Alps after the long transfer from Roubaix yet continued dishing the dirt, on and off the road. As Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas faced up to the gravel roads of stage 10 to Le Grand Bornand, Bradley Wiggins was stirring the pot back home, fuelling talk of leadership battles between Team Sky’s co-leaders.

Famously, Wiggins and Froome fell out during the 2012 Tour when the Olympic champion threatened to walk out on his team, even while wearing the leader’s yellow jersey, after Froome had attacked on the climb to La Toussuire. The pair’s feud has continued since then, with Wiggins’s wife Cath labelling Froome a “slithering reptile” on social media only last year.

Related: Mark Cavendish battles time in bid for Eddy Merckx’s Tour stage wins record | Richard Williams

Related: Richie Porte: another year, another mishap for cycling’s unluckiest man | Kieran Pender

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Mark Cavendish battles time in bid for Eddy Merckx’s Tour stage wins record | Richard Williams

The signs have not been promising for one of the most remarkable British sporting figures of our life as he misses out for another year in his pursuit of the legendary Belgian

As he made it to the finish line in Roubaix on Sunday, the 52nd rider to come home on a day of bone-rattling cobbles and throat-clogging dust, Mark Cavendish would have been looking forward to a rest day. The first week of the 2018 Tour de France was harsh on a man who, chasing the all-time record of stage wins, had started the season with a series of bad crashes. The signs have not been promising for one of the most remarkable British sporting figures of our lifetime.

The four victories that would bring him level with Eddy Merckx’s 34 are now out of reach for this year, at least. After a 500-mile transfer to the first rest day in Annecy, three days in the high mountains come before his next chance of a win, at the end of Friday’s flat stage from Bourg d’Oisans to Valence. Two more opportunities then present themselves, in Pau on stage 18 and in Paris on the final day.

Related: Mark Cavendish: ‘I’m not scared but I think of the consequences more’

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Richie Porte: another year, another mishap for cycling’s unluckiest man | Kieran Pender

The Australian is 33 and the march of time will soon pose an insurmountable obstacle to his Tour de France aspirations

In 2014, it was pneumonia. In 2016, it was an untimely puncture. In 2017, it was a horror crash at 70kph on a steep descent. On Sunday, Richie Porte’s latest attempt at the Tour de France yellow jersey was prematurely ended by an innocuous pile-up early on stage nine which left the Tasmanian clutching his right shoulder. The pained facial expression said it all. As tears emerged from underneath his mirrored sunglasses, it was clear that Porte’s efforts to claim the grandest prize in cycling would be undone by misfortune.

Related: Richie Porte out of Tour de France after crash on stage nine

Related: Chaos on the cobbles as Degenkolb wins Tour de France stage nine in Roubaix

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